Neelan Choksi's Posts

Tasktop’s Austin Office Now Open

Monday, August 13th, 2012

As someone who has lived in and around the Austin entrepreneurial scene for nearly the past decade, I am very excited about this announcement. In all the companies that I’ve managed while living in Austin from SolarMetric to SpringSource to Lexcycle, this is the first time a company I’ve been involved with had a real physical presence in Austin. I am thrilled about this. I feel like Austin has given me so much over the years but for whatever reason, I’ve generally been a solo flyer in Austin in all of my previous companies. At SolarMetric, we had one other person in Austin but with SpringSource and Lexcycle, I was the only one here. When I joined Vancouver-headquartered Tasktop on a day-to-day basis 2 years ago, most of my fellow ATXers rolled their eyes as I had yet again managed not to work for an Austin company.

As it turns out, Tasktop is different, and this announcement of our new office is evidence of that difference. I am excited to have launched the new office with a couple of fabulous women prominent in the local scene, Nicole Bryan and Melanie Wise. We plan to grow the office in coming months and years as we build out our business development, marketing, sales operations, solutions and the other areas of the company that I get to work with on a day-to-day basis.

Austin also has a little known Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) mafia with many of Tasktop’s partners who participate in the software value chain having a presence in Austin making Austin a perfect place for Tasktop’s US Headquarters.

Austin has been a big part of my growth as an entrepreneur, a businessman and a person. For those familiar with my time in Austin especially in the local tech start-up scene, I am grateful to:

greenbullet_icon Brett for his timely and very important advice
greenbullet_icon Josh letting me squat in his offices and including me in Capital Factory as mentor helping me re-engage in Austin
greenbullet_icon Jonathan and our never-ending search for the ultimate breakfast taco
greenbullet_icon Lisa being so supportive of Tasktop, helping us grow out our presence in Austin
greenbullet_icon Kyle’s big heart and soul
greenbullet_icon Mark and Greg and being able to reconnect

and so many more people that I apologize I am not mentioning.

One of the biggest influences on me during my nine years here in Austin has been Bijoy. I learned about Bootstrap Austin and met Bijoy right after we moved. Bijoy and I have debated and imbibed and debated. Those debates (is it really a debate when 1 person keeps being right?) have challenged me and caused me to assess and reassess. Although my crazy hair has come and gone, Bijoy and his hair have been one of the constants. I’m very proud of the fact that Tasktop is still bootstrapped since its founding in 2007, and I suspect that fact gives me a little cred with my friend who has gotten me to care far more about the journey than the destination.

My very first Bootstrap meeting was at the IC2 Institute in 2003 – I believe Dr. Darius spoke. If I am not mistaken, that is where I met Chad Jewell who 9 years later, helped us find our new office (even though I hadn’t spoken to the guy in at least 5 years). That’s Austin.

Also, I’d like to thank Lynn at Expero and look forward to spending time with her team in our shared location.

There is nothing like leaving a place to really appreciate it, and I had the fortune of doing so when we did our brief 1 year dalliance in Seattle. We made many good friends in Seattle but it probably wasn’t fair. Had I moved to Seattle from other places I’ve lived e.g., Boston or Morristown or Chicago, I may have fallen for Seattle. But unfortunately, my foil was the ATX and that is a tough act to follow.

And of course the family. Austin is home – its where Sharon and I decided to pitch our tent, its where my kids were born, and its where I plan on spending my twilight years wearing bad shirts and someday, even worse pants.

So, if you get a chance stop by and check us out.

Tasktop CEO Mik Kersten at IBM Innovate 2012

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Tasktop has a strong presence this week in Orlando, FL at IBM Innovate 2012, the main Rational Software Conference.

Tasktop CEO and father of Eclipse Mylyn Mik Kersten will be presenting the verbosely titled “LS-2323: Add Sync to Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration Link: Large-Scale Application Lifecycle Management Integration for IBM Rational Team Concert”. Look for a surprise customer guest to share their experiences using Tasktop Sync in Mik’s talk. The details of Mik’s talk follows below:

Date: Thu, Jun 7, 2012
Time: 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Australia 2 – Dolphin

Additionally, Tasktop co-founder and OSLC working group member Robert Elves will be participating on the “LS-1653A: OSLC Experience Reports and Roundtable” panel.

Date: Wed, Jun 6, 2012
Time 1:45-2:45 PM
Location: Southern III – Dolphin

The company can be found during exhibit hours at the IBM Integration Center at pedestal #6 and also on the show floor at Booth #410. Stop by to chat, see a demo of Tasktop Sync and Tasktop Dev, and remember to have your badge scanned for a chance to win the 40″ Sony HDTV (Tasktop even pays for shipping).

Video interview with Dave West on joining Tasktop as Chief Product Officer

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I recently sat down with Dave West and Mik Kersten in Austin, TX in order to discuss the significance of Dave joining Tasktop. I think it comes across in the video but for me personally, one of the best things about Dave joining is that we are going to have a lot of fun while we transform the world.

Read more in Dave’s post, Mik’s post and my post on the topic.

Dave West is Now a Tasktopian

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

As President & COO of Tasktop, I am thrilled to welcome Dave West to the Tasktop family.  Dave has been a friend of the company’s for a long time often staying up till all hours with Mik and I talking technology, ALM, agile, integrations, life, and making the world a better place to build software.  We’re especially excited about Dave joining because we believe it sends a strong signal to our customers, partners, and community.  Tasktop, first and foremost, is a product company with a mission that aligns neatly to Dave’s mission of helping people deliver software just a little bit better.  As the leading ALM analyst, Dave could have worked for his pick of companies and the fact that he chose Tasktop is a powerful statement about the stellar team we have built over the years. It also re-enforces the opportunity that we have a Tasktop to change the value stream of software delivery.  I’m proud of the company we’ve built that Dave chose us but also feel a responsibility to make Dave (and any Tasktopian for that matter) proud of their choice to be at Tasktop.
Dave has a unique vantage point on our customers’ challenges, hopes, desires and pain, and I look forward to watching  the evolution of our products as we incorporate that knowledge into Tasktop Sync, Tasktop Dev, and our future products.   Most of all, I am excited to be adding Dave’s voice to our stable of innovative technologists and thought leaders.  If you look at my history, I derive a great deal of personal satisfaction by working with some of the best technology companies and technologists in the world helping them get their innovations to customers who desperately need the value of those innovations.  It’ll be great to have Dave on board helping our marketing, sales, and business development groups on this front… to connect the existing and future Tasktop technologies to the customers who are in most need of them.

Integration: The biggest roadblock for users of ALM solutions and other lessons learned in recent Tasktop webinar

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In what was my favorite Tasktop webinar to date, we received a number of insights from Tasktop CEO, Mik Kersten, and our featured speaker, Dave West, VP and Research Director at Forrester Research. This webinar on the future of ALM is titled “Getting ALM2.0+ to work: Breaking down the silos to provide an integrated value chain for software delivery and beyond“. This was our 16th webinar to date; if you missed any of our past webinars, they are available for viewing on the Webinars Page.

Webinar: Getting ALM 2.0+ to work

Ever since Tasktop started in 2007, we knew we were onto something that would transform application development and delivery. Mylyn, Tasktop Dev and Tasktop Sync have been delivering on that promise and we are very proud that our customers are seeing significant ROI with the use of our products. The webinar series has been a great channel for gathering external feedback that the benefit of the products that we are delivering for customers is very real. In last week’s webinar, we got further confirmation that the ALM integration problem we are solving for our customers is increasingly being acknowledged as a major pain point for the entire industry. In this screen capture from the webinar, Dave West highlighted that Forrester has uncovered integration as the largest roadblock for deploying ALM solutions. Features like the latest Agile planner are what gets talked about most, but integration is what’s needed to get the benefits of Agile deployments and the ROI of ALM modernization efforts.

Biggest roadblock for users of ALM is integration

There were numerous other insights that we gained through this webinar. I summarize a few of those insights below but encourage you to watch the webinar recording itself.

The modern software development world is marked by a desperate need to deliver software faster. There has been a fundamental shift in the cadence of software delivery driven by the proliferation of platforms, faster iterations and Agile development methodologies. In this new world order, innovation and speed has overtaken cost as the core measuring stick for software development organizations.

As Marc Andreessen wrote, “software is eating the world“. It is ubiquitous and growing ever more complex. The latest Mercedes Benz car comes with 20 million lines of code included. But if software is truly the differentiator, why is it always late, frequently unreliable, and usually of poor quality? Why do 30-70% of software projects fail?

The core premise is that many organizations haven’t kept up with the changing times. Software now comes from a variety of sources which creates dependencies to the broadening ecosystem. In the past, software managers ruled with an iron fist, controlling everything. In today’s world, control is a fallacy, and the best way to manage the ecosystem is with acceptance and visibility. However, today’s dev organizations don’t always have the discipline to be successful but instead go through the motions with what Dave refers to as “process pantomime”. The handoffs aren’t well defined, and developer chaos rules. In an interesting twist of fate, Agile is actually providing some of the discipline that has been so sorely lacking.

Dave further highlights that Agile has been the catalyst for a lot of the changes we’ve seen. Traditional ALM focused on traceability, workflow and reporting. All that made sense when you were only talking about 1-2 handoffs every 6-12 months, as outlined in the waterfall and other legacy methodologies. Today, ALM is characterized by lots of handoffs in the same time period and hence modern ALM is about augmenting the traditional view of ALM with automation, work planning and collaboration. Another issue that Dave raises is one that is near and dear to our hearts at Tasktop: he highlights the holistic view of a task that provides the context for effective collaboration linked to the work that needs to get done and linked to the steps in the software development and delivery process. Dave adds that seamless integration and ALM automation is critical for success in this Lean, Agile, fast iteration world which is exacerbated by disciplines that use completely different tools. This aligns perfectly with our mission at Tasktop as we spend a lot of our days striving to help companies through ALM Automation™ and Task Federation in order to practically ensure that the information from any one tool doesn’t stay stovepiped but rather is accessible by all constituents via the tools they already know and love.

Increasingly, getting all disciplines to work together by integrating the value stream is the key challenge. This is Tasktop’s primary focus, as we’ve learned that part of the battle is building tools to facilitate this challenge. We’ve also learned that in building these tools we’ve exposed the mess that arises during the collaboration between the siloed departments involved in software development and delivery. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the stacks of tools in each silo have been changing rapidly. In many organizations, ALM architecture is lacking and no one is responsible for the holistic process and cross-departmental workflows. At Tasktop, we’ve augmented the Tasktop Sync solution with Sync Studio to provide visual and monitoring tools to address the mess that we saw.

The entire process of developing and delivering software is disconnected and lacks visibility and traceability. The historical attempts at integration are manual or broken, and things are getting worse as the lifecycle is getting more complex. Despite all of the challenges, we are starting to see some best practices such as having an ALM Architect on staff who is responsible for the entire software value chain (this sounds like a topic for a future blog). We are also seeing some patterns emerge on how to deal with the chaos more effectively:

  • Pattern 1: Defect Unification
  • Pattern 2: Planning Visibility
  • Pattern 3: Requirements Traceability

In conclusion, I really want to encourage you to watch this webinar recording. In addition to the details of the patterns, there’s a ton more fodder in the webinar that I don’t even mention in this already too long summary blog, including interesting stats on usage of ALM components, introduction to flow-based ALM, a discussion on batches and reducing batch sizes, and devOps place.

Finally, congrats to Don B of NC for attending the recent Tasktop webinar “Getting ALM2.0+ to work: Breaking down the silos to provide an integrated value chain for software delivery and beyond” and winning the iPad. Don’s name was randomly selected from the list of attendees of the webinar.

If you want to learn more about Tasktop Sync, the Ovum Technology Audit for Tasktop Sync provides another independent view point. You can also visit the Tasktop Sync page for more info or to request a demo.

HP OEMs Tasktop Dev for HP ALM 11 Customers

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

We’re pleased to join HP in announcing that customers of HP ALM 11 will now be able to take advantage of many of the features of Tasktop Dev through an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version created for HP ALM 11. Most notably, by connecting developers using their tools of choice to the application lifecycle, this new OEM version of Tasktop Dev is now an integral part of the HP Application Lifecycle Intelligence (ALI) suite. Leveraging the Tasktop Dev OEM extensions, ALI aggregates task-based information from multiple development tools to provide complete traceability from requirement, defect and user story tasks to code changes managed with leading source code management (SCM) tools. In other words, developers get all the benefits of Tasktop Dev and Eclipse Mylyn for this enterprise ALM tool, while testers, business analysts and other lifecycle stakeholders are able to work more efficiently since collaboration with development is captured and connected.

Welcome Tutorial

The OEM version of Tasktop Dev is available from HP in HP ALM 11 now as part of the recently announced ALI 2.5 and includes the following key components:


Eclipse IDE integration – HP ALM 11 customers can now access HP ALM artifacts directly from within Eclipse. Also bundled with the OEM are: the Subversion (SVN) Eclipse Mylyn Connector for Subclipse and Subversive, Concurrent Versioning System (CVS) Eclipse Mylyn Connector, and the Eclipse Mylyn Connector for Hudson/Jenkins. This allows Linux and Mac users to access and update application defects and requirements from HP ALM 11.



Visual Studio IDE integration – HP ALM 11 customers can now access HP ALM artifacts directly from within Microsoft Visual Studio. This results in more productive developers who remain in the flow longer because they have access to the information they need at their fingertips when they need it.

HP ALM Visual Studio Integration

Workspace auto-provisioning – New Tasktop Workspace Provisioning technology allows developers to auto-provision development environments comprised of IDEs, SCM and build management systems to automate many of the time-consuming and administrative tasks that erode developer productivity.


HP Agile Accelerator task board for Eclipse – Tasktop’s developer-centric Agile Planning board provides developers with an Eclipse IDE interface for accessing and updating HP Agile Accelerator plans. The planner includes an Agile task board that provides a visual and developer-centric representation of project progress. This provides developers with improved visibility into team sprint status while making it easy for developers to keep plans up-to-date without leaving their home environment, the IDE.


SCM traceability automation for HP ALI – By tracking development activity, Tasktop automates traceability between the source code committed to repositories such as Subversion, and the corresponding defects and requirements that are identified and tracked in HP ALM 11. The new HP ALI 2.5 solution is a key component of HP ALM 11, which provides enterprises with the real-time visibility and traceability between HP ALM and open source SCM systems. For developers, the task to change traceability information is navigable directly within the Eclipse development environment. Other stakeholders can view the code associated with a given requirement or defect from the HP ALI reports interface in HP ALM.

In addition to the components above, which are already available today, we’re working on a forthcoming update that will also include an HP-branded version of Tasktop’s welcome tutorial screen. This provides quick access to key features and content for getting started with the IDE integrations. The screenshot above provides a sneak peak at how this will look. We will continue working with HP to provide HP ALM customers with additional functionality and usability as part of this OEM.

HP Agile Accelerator task board for Eclipse

Automatic Workspace Provisioning

For all HP Quality Center users, previous HP ALM users (version 10), and users of HP ALM 11 looking for any of the 60+ additional commercial and open source connectors not included in the OEM, Tasktop Dev Enterprise Edition offers all of the above functionality as well as integrations with other vendors’ ALM tools for $199 per user per year.

For customers looking for high quality synchronization or linking capabilities, the Tasktop Sync product line offers a server solution that provides all of the other constituents in the software value chain, from project managers to testers, with the information they need in their tool of choice regardless of where the information originates.


Tasktop has developed a strong relationship with the HP ALM team and we’ve been working closely with HP R&D and product management to deliver products that augment HP ALM with Tasktop’s developer-centric capabilities. We are pleased to have received a Partner of the Year award in recognition of the cross-company collaboration that led to this product, and look forward to bringing more of our innovations to HP users.

Contact us for more information on Tasktop Sync, Tasktop Dev, or the HP OEM version of Tasktop Dev.

Tasktop at SXSW Interactive and ATX Startup Crawl

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

SXSW Startup Crawl 2012Tasktop will be participating in the ATX Startup Crawl at SXSW later today, March 8. With over 2000 RSVPs already, we are looking forward to meeting with all the talented folks from Austin, those visiting Austin for SXSW as well as the 50 fellow Austin companies that are participating in the Crawl. We will be manning the Tasktop table at the Capital Factory location at the Omni building at 701 Brazos St., 8th Floor from 4pm – 10pm.

You can meet Tasktop’s newest employee, Nicole (who technically won’t start until March 19) as well as me at the Crawl. We’re looking forward to hanging out, drinking some wine, seeing old friends and making new ones. We can chat about how it’s like to work for a company located in two of the greatest places in the world (Vancouver and Austin) or Eclipse or Mylyn or Tasktop Sync or application lifecycle management or any number of other interesting topics. So stop by, we’d love to meet you.

We are hiring in Austin so we are also looking forward to starting dialogues with people who could eventually fill some job opportunities that Tasktop either has currently or will shortly have in our Austin location:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Partner Relations and Business Development Manager
  • Sales Operations Manager

If you can’t make the crawl, contact us as we’ll also be out and about during SXSWi attending sessions as well as a party or two.

By the way, we are also looking for office space near Tarrytown / west downtown so if you have any leads on Austin office space, let us know…

Independent Technology Audit for Tasktop Sync from Ovum’s Azoff

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Ovum Technology Audit
of Tasktop Sync, Version 2.0
Author: Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst, Software – IT Solutions
Date: February 2012 ( NO LONGER AVAILBLE for download )

For a limited time, we’re excited to make available to our customers and users the Ovum Technology Audit for Tasktop Sync (registration required). Technology Audits are independent product reviews done by Ovum analysts.

Recently named as a Power100, Michael Azoff handled this Technology Audit. Azoff focuses on Agile practices, DevOps, and software development lifecycle management (SDLM) especially when related to the cloud. I feel like I’ve been briefing Michael for half a decade through a couple of different companies. Michael definitely gets our partners’ businesses, and I am glad that he evaluated Tasktop Sync.

You might be wondering “why should I read another piece of marketing from Tasktop?” The main reason is that this is not pure Tasktop marketing but rather a proper analyst report.

A lot of folks don’t know how analyst Technology Assessments (TA) work so I thought I would share the process by which we were able to make this TA available. We went through a stringent process with Ovum… extensive written questionnaires followed by verbal interviews. At the end of the effort, we were given a chance to review a draft of the TA to ensure that the facts were correct, and then Ovum published the TA making it available to its research customers. We felt that the TA gave a fair and accurate representation of Tasktop Sync as well as some great insight on what types of companies would be most successful using Tasktop Sync so we decided to go ahead and distribute the TA for a few months.

We are hopeful that you will find this content compelling. In particular, the TA highlights some deployment scenarios and how Sync customers are using Tasktop Sync to connect their software development lifecycle. Additionally, the TA also goes on to talk about some areas of strategic growth for Tasktop Sync… we’ve been getting increasing requests from customers for integrations and synchronization with Product Portfolio Management (PPM) tools and Helpdesk / ITSM tools.

Tasktop 2011 Year in Review

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

We recently put out a year in review press release. I thought it would be fun to put together a top 10 list of my favorite accomplishments from this year.

  1. People love working for Tasktop as evidenced by us being named the 2011 Best Employer in BC and named BC Business Magazine’s #4th best company to work for in BC in the Digital Tech & Services Category 2011
  2. The introduction of Tasktop Sync extending Tasktop’s integration capabilities beyond the developer to other constituents in the software development process including testers, managers, and business analysts
  3. Open source leadership with active participation in the Eclipse Foundation including: continued leadership of Mylyn and the promotion of Mylyn to a top-level Eclipse project, mentor of Hudson and Lyo (OSLC SDK project) in Eclipse, participation in various Eclipse DemoCamps, Eclipse Island in CeBIT, Eclipsecon, etc., active contributor to nearly two dozen open source projects
  4. Four Tasktop Dev product releases
  5. Expansion of the Tasktop partner ecosystem with new connectors for Accept360, Polarion, Borland StarTeam, and SmartBear CodeCollaborator
  6. Task Focused Continuous Integration via a new connector for Hudson and Jenkins
  7. Cross-repository Agile Planning with Eclipse IDE integration and offline support
  8. Tasktop Dev for Visual Studio extends the capabilities historically available to Eclipse users to .NET users as well
  9. Mik Kersten’s 2011 Top 10 Prediction Series was incredibly popular, and we also discovered that Mik considers writing a guilty pleasure. Mik also introduced ALM Automation during his keynote at JAX
  10. Recognition for our efforts as we were awarded the 2011 AllianceONE Partner of the Year Award from HP – Innovative Partner and were named a finalist as the Most Innovative Java Company at the JAX Innovation Awards 2011

We want to thank you for supporting Tasktop in 2011, and look forward to an even more active 2012.

Tasktop at JavaOne: Drinkup with GitHub and Continuous Integration Talk and Panel

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Meet Tasktop at JavaOne at Booth #5004. Tasktop team members will be happy to show you the latest from Tasktop including Tasktop Sync, Tasktop Dev and Eclipse Mylyn.

Also, if you have some time, Tasktop and GitHub are co-hosting a Drinkup on Tuesday night starting at 8pm at Jasper’s Corner Tap. Jasper’s Corner Tap is located at 401 Taylor St. We hope to see you there.

Monday’s Panel: The Future of Java Build and Continuous Integration

  • Ted Farrell, Chief Architect, Tools & Middleware
  • Mik Kersten, CEO, Tasktop, @mik_kersten
  • Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation, @mmilinkov
  • Mike Maciag, CEO Electric Cloud
  • Max Spring, Tech Lead, Cisco Systems
Mylyn Contribution Workflow

from Mik's JavaOne talk

We saw a great turn out at the panel, with attendees driving a discussion of how Hudson and Continuous Integration in general is becoming a central part of the modern ALM stack. Tomorrow (Tuesday October 4th), Mik will elaborate on the story in his talk titled “ALM Automation with Mylyn and Hudson”.

Tuesday’s Talk: ALM Automation with Mylyn and Hudson

Date: Tues., Oct. 4, 2011, noon – 1 p.m. Pacific
Location: Parc 55 – Divisidero

With the shift to PaaS and a new breed of open source ALM tools, the deployment loop of enterprise apps is going through its biggest transition since the creation of Java. Kersten will explore connecting the enterprise Java stack to cloud deployment via task-focused continuous integration based on Hudson. Distributed version control systems, code review and Agile planning, based on the Eclipse Mylyn interoperability platform, can be used to create a new level of connectivity and automation between the team and the running application. This talk outlines a roadmap for transforming productivity by connecting developers’ desktops to the release, and automating all the steps in between, from provisioning the IDE to monitoring the running application.